A True Hybrid Sudangrass Offers Unique Advantages
Most livestock owners have heard about or have used the new class of forages containing the brown midrib (BMR) trait reducing the lignin content of plant cell walls. The advantages of better digestibility and improved animal weight-gain of this new trait are well documented and have been incorporated into several forage species.
However, HayKing (a sudan x sudan hybrid) provides several advantages over other crops like the conventional BMR forage sorghums and sorghum x sudangrass hybrids. This newest version of the BMR trait, has for the first time, incorporated the BMR gene into a new hybrid using solely sudan parentage. Putting this BMR trait into just the sudan species takes advantage of several genetic traits unique to the sudangrass species.
Other BMR hybrids have a portion of their parentage derived from sorghums. This parentage brings with it a few inherent disadvantages, especially for grazing and haying operations (See Table on next page.). The advantage of HayKing, with its sudan x sudan parentage, is it inherently has smaller diameter stems (better drying time for haying) and wider leafier forage for better quality. HayKing also has more tillering and better regrowth potential. In times of drought, HayKing is more water efficient than corn, needing less water for each ton of forage production.
All these factors combined with increased palatability make HayKing BMR hybrid an excellent choice for Southern producers for haying and/or pasturing operations.
As with all other BMR crops, HayKing hybrid sudangrass contains the BMR gene, which reduces the amount of lignin in the plant, making it more digestible. Developed by Cal/West Seeds, the trait is marketed under the Hi-Gest Technology trademark and Producer’s Choice® brand name. HayKing, with the Hi-Gest Technology, is the result of 17 years of plant breeding, inbred line development and on-farm evaluation. The result is a more digestible hybrid and an important new forage option for beef, dairy and sheep producers.
The following is what HayKing, a true hybrid sudangrass, offers to the forage producer and livestock feeder.
Beef Cattle: Replicated grazing studies document a 20 percent greater weight-gain per-animal per-day and a 20 percent greater weight-gain per-acre for beef cattle grazing HayKing versus Piper sudangrass.
Sheep: In a controlled feeding study, pelleted HayKing had a 12 percent higher digestibility than pelleted Piper sudangrass.
Dairy: A replicated milk output study documented a five percent increase in feed intake per day and a 12 percent increase in milk production per day when 18 percent of the TMR ration was HayKing versus Piper sudangrass.
Dairy and Beef Cattle: Grazing trials in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Illinois and Mississippi demonstrated HayKing with Hi-Gest Technology was preferentially grazed over Piper sudangrass and BMR sorghum/sudangrass hybrids.
Field Appearance at Harvest Maturity
HayKing is a fast-growing hybrid with very fine stems, aggressive tillering and a mass of leaves at harvest maturity. It is an excellent choice for direct pasture, dried hay, green chop or silage. HayKing’s fine stems may help field dry in humid production areas.
Planting rates vary from region-to-region depending on available moisture and crop utilization. In the Southeast, general seeding rates for drilled seed range from 25 to 40 pounds per acre. HayKing hybrid sudangrass averages about 32,000 seeds per pound. Seed color varies from tan to black.
• Plant after the danger of frost and soil temperatures exceeds 65°.
• Apply approximately 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre pre-plant and 40 to 60 pounds after each harvest to maximize yield.
• Harvest at height of 45 to 50 inches. Leave three to six inches of stubble to encourage faster recovery and tillering of the next crop. Do not graze until growth exceeds 18 inches.
• Multiple harvests each season.
• Improved fall disease package over many sudangrass or sorghum/sudangrass hybrids in humid production areas.
• Follow the same feeding precautions as with other forage sorghums to minimize the risk of prussic acid or nitrate poisoning.
Don Miller, Ph.D., is the Director of Product Development with Producer’s Choice® Seed.